Solskjaer ‘manager of the season’ over ‘poor man’s Van Gaal’

Date published: Tuesday 4th August 2020 2:25

Also, Alex McCarthy should be England No.1 and another F365 agenda... it's hard to keep track.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Man Utd

Send your thoughts on the real manager of the season to


The poor man’s Van Gaal
I see how JohnnyWicky chose to fire and run. Shame.

Re the tedious debate re Solskjaer v Arteta – how can anybody know yet? Arteta hasn’t spent any money? He had a transfer window and chose not to get somebody? And still finished 8th? A different view of Arteta’s season (FA Cup and 8th place), is that he’s a poor man’s Van Gaal. There are clubs that would sack him for that 🙂 – still the serious point is, he might be the second coming of Pep, or he might be the new Marco Silva, and anybody who says they know for sure is pretending. One man teams? This arsenal team minus Aubameyang would sink like a stone.

We all do this with our own teams. Solskjaer’s points total isn’t great, but anybody with half a brain can see how much he’s brought the team forward this year. But you can always find data to beat Solskjaer with. But Johnny takes it to a whole new level when he talks about the points per spend table over 5 years to criticise Solskjaer. I have a counter offer – let’s evaluate Klopp by Liverpool’s performance over the premier league era. No? Just the last 15 years? Not even that? Just the last 3 before he joined perhaps?

United fans are more optimistic now than at any point post Fergie. The football is actually good and improving. The future looks a little brighter than the past. That’s really all that counts. The rest is trivia.
Ved Sen (I found a video of De Gea saving a Lukaku penalty!), MUFC


Ole is the ‘manager of the season’
To the idiot that wrote in to suggest that finishing 8th and fluking an FA cup makes a better manager than the guy who went undefeated for a quarter of the season to drag his team into third place – maybe football’s not for you.  Maybe put down the scotch bottle.

To the idiots that printed it – how are you still not getting it?  Put down the scotch bottle.

ABU365’s love-in with Arteta is a weird one but this site has always been pro-Arsenal so their guy meandering in tenth and then clawing his way to finish 8th was always going to get more love than Ole.  It doesn’t matter that we beat City three times, did Chelsea home and away, went 19 games unbeaten, they will point to a transfer kitty as if it suddenly undoes any and all achievements and no other club spent a penny.

Now, if you are skewed by the FA Cup, it’s understandable (or would be if not for the disastrous league finish) but… for the life of me… I don’t see how Lampard gets ranked in second place.  He took a largely consistent squad in a poor season and made them worse.  He’s learned nothing since Derby.

For those still obsessing over spending, United had to spend.  In addition to the moronic way Ed Woodward runs the club we have the “United tax” applied to every transfer.  Clubs see us coming, know that we have money and know that we need a certain quality of player.  It’s no point pretending otherwise.  Other clubs will cry poverty or justify that they don’t need the player – years of piss-poor mismanagement means that United will never have that option.

We’re finally buying the right players, even if at inflated prices, and Ole deserves credit for that.  And for moving on the less desirable ones.  The Moyes, Van Gaal and Mourinho reigns were never going to be fixed in a season and, if you’re honest with yourself, Solskjaer is much further down the line of resolving those clusterfucks than anyone could possibly have thought.

Two semi-finals, a third place finish, favourites for the Europa and not one bad transfer against his name.  Ole is not just the greatest United manager since Sir Alex, he’s the manager of the season.  And to think some idiots put him behind Pep Jnr and Fat Frank.  Have a word with yourselves.
William Douglas Foster, Stretford


I see you have published another effort from johnnyWicky frotting over Liverpool while gleefully kicking United (Manyoo FFS). What dear Johnny doesn’t take into account regarding Ole and his spending is, he has brought in 4 players and all but James has been a success, he has also shipped out a lot of dead wood while simultaneously getting us to play better football than we have in the last 7 years. The amount of Liverpool fans determined to denigrate Ole and United is hilarious, I think you might be getting slightly twitchy at the fact our Norwegian manager might just know what he is doing and sooner or later we will once again begin to challenge at the top.
Paul Murphy, Manchester

MEDIAWATCH: Man Utd ‘forced the Germans’ to accept £110m instead of £50m


What about Mbappe?
Dave, Somewhere – what about Mbappe? I guess he largely slips through the net because the Neymar deal was bigger but I think he’s been a success at PSG by any definition; 77 goals and 32 assists in 99 appearances (based on figures) is pretty damn good wherever you’re playing. I think Neymar has probably been successful too (51 goals, 33 assists in 69 apps), and they haven’t failed to win the league since his arrival. Sure, they haven’t won the Champions League and he hasn’t won the Ballon D’Or but the former is not down to just him while the latter was never going to happen and anyone hoping/expecting it to was naïve. Yes, PSG paid over the odds for him but they were paying a superstar price and I think it would be a tad harsh to say he hasn’t lived up to that.

I think that Dave does bring up an interesting point though. When compared to the prices paid for those £100m+ players, I think the Sancho deal at £108m (it’s apparently 120m Euros, not sterling) looks pretty decent value – especially if a large chunk of it is in instalments and/or achievement-based add-ons. Here are my reasoning:

He’s only 20 so this signing (were it to happen) would easily be seen as a long-term investment. Providing that he maintains a similar level of performance, we could potentially be looking at that right-wing position being sorted for the next ten years, by which time £108m would seem very reasonable. Of course if he flops then it will be seen as an expensive mistake but that’s true of any transfer – £64m for Di Maria looks horrendous now based on his time at United.

He’s British, so there’s obviously an inflation of his value because of that. But that also works in his favour; he’s already familiar with many of the players who could be his teammates at United from England duty. And, given who he’s reportedly friends with in the England setup, he’s probably a similar character to many of those potential clubmates, which might ease the bedding-in process.

He’s already posting excellent goal contribution numbers. The German league, for my money, is the closest standard (in style and quality) to the Premier League, so those 33 goals and 37 assists in 97 appearances look pretty encouraging to me. If we got anything like those numbers at United then that would be wonderful.

Look at those other transfer fees: Griezmann, Dembele, Coutinho, Neymar, Mbappe, Felix…if you look at the Sancho fee and deem that it is a worse deal than any of those then I’m afraid you’re looking at that with…what’s the opposite of rose-tinted glasses? A poo-tinted monocle? The Felix deal is the closest resemblance and I don’t think anyone at Atletico would tell you they were unhappy at paying that for one of the most highly rated youngsters in Europe, and Sancho is definitely in the same bracket. Even compared to £85m for Maguire, £108m for Sancho (7 years younger) looks like a better investment.

Hopefully we can get it over the line and soon, but if this one comes off I will be delighted. Is it a lot of money to spend? Yes, absolutely. Is it a gamble? Of course – all transfers are. But do we need him and will he improve us? Absolutely and almost certainly. Beyond the impact on the team, this transfer would actually be a good indicator that things are changing for the better at United; if Woodward can get the main target done in the first two weeks of the window then that will be remarkable and very welcome indeed, when compared to the mess around Harry Maguire last year.

Oh, and nice try johnnyWicky, but absolutely nobody is buying your bullsh*t that 8th and the FA Cup is better than 3rd and the Europa League. Oh, and Chelsea bought Mateo Kovacic for £40m (and yes, that does count because if they hadn’t paid that money he would have gone back to Real Madrid) and 11-goal, 5-assists Christian Pulisic didn’t join Chelsea for £54m in January, did he not? So that “no money” line doesn’t wash either.
Ted, Manchester


Dave is this morning’s mailbox looked at the success of £100m+ signings.  There is one that he left off the list, Mbappe, different sources will give differing values of the transfer but it was certainly over £100m.  Mbappe has 69 goals in 75 appearances and has won the world cup.  Given his age he is probably the highest value player in the world right now and would certainly walk in to any team in the world.Also, can we get past the notion that Lampard ‘spent nothing’.  He spent £40m bringing Kovacic in permanently – I’m still not sure how that was allowed under a transfer ban.  And whilst he wasn’t manager when the signing was made he was the first manager to be able to use £60m Pulisic.  So Frank had £100m worth of permanent additions to his squad this summer.  Certainly less than Ole, but definitely not nothing.

Finally, yes Liverpool have done some wonderful things in the transfer market over the past 5 seasons. Dutifully helped by Barcelona and Bournemouth being absolute mugs but I think there is a huge recency bias to call it the ‘greatest performance in the transfer market EVER’ as one mailboxer stated this morning.  Look back to some of the early signings Ferguson and Wenger made – plucking obscure players from nowhere and turning them in to title winners and £50m players.  Blimey, even look at what Leicester did, spending pennies and making a Leicester team title winners is far more impressive in terms of the transfer market than the admittedly good stuff Liverpool have done.
Rich, AFC


Jesus I hate that statement.

“3. Football is out of control, how is kicking a ball worth 225 million?”

Maybe, just maybe, because football generates an incredible amount of interest across the globe. Everyone wants a piece, as a piece has a price.  Where did you think the money goes?

Don’t believe me? You just wrote 300+ words on a man changing his job.
Jack (It’s okay for clubs to spend the money they make) Belfast


Why Willian?
Read the articles about Arsenal building around 5 and binning 5. Agree with some of it. Disagree with some it – ain’t that the way.

Guendouzi might have talent but Stead doesn’t go far enough in his reasons for selling… Guendouzi literally can not head a football. He’s almost afraid to.  In the premier league that is criminal. I would never have him in my team for that reason alone… Unless he’s as good as Xhavi (he isn’t)

Kolasinac – he should be in the sell category too, passing range in the 50-60% range. Again, criminal for a team passing out from the back. Also “defends” by pushing his hands into an opponent constantly…

Saliba, don’t know how anybody can say we should build around him. I’d wager almost all of us need to see him in the league before deciding if he can defend.
The amount of defenders people have raved about over the years only to get burnt… Let’s wait and see on that one. But I hope Stead is right and I assume he’s actually seen him play?

I wrote a scathing email last year about Xhaka. I stand by most of it, but Arteta has coached him excellently. He doesn’t try and turn anymore, which is key as his turning radius is that of an oil tanker. Plays the way he’s facing.

He no longer ball watches, is so much more switched on and the team being more compact negates the ease with which he can be dribbled past. Fair play to him. Keep him for another season, we have bigger problems.

Finally, I really don’t like the direction the club has gone in with respect to transfers. As Arseblog has noted, our new, “contacts” based approach has led to Luiz, and now probably Willian. Why Willian? Good player but we have: Pepe and Auba left and right. With Nelson, Saka and Martinelli as back up. Oh, and hes 31 with a large salary/sign on fee.

I don’t like it. Agents take money out of the game at astonishing rates. We’re now in bed with one of the biggest. Would not happen under Wenger. Its one of the things I admired about him.
Strevs, Afc, Canada 


Build and ditch
Really enjoying the recent ‘five to ditch, five to build around’ series. I hope it continues beyond the so called ‘big’ teams. I for one would love to hear a little more about the newly promoted squads.
Bagpuss (always crushing on one newly promoted side)


Brighton build and ditch
5 to Build Around-
Tariq Lamptey – Brighton’s best player post-lockdown. Started fantastically;: pacey, great crosser and direct. Defensively solid, though caught out a few times towards the end of the season as lack of match practice and experience caught up with him.

Yves Bissouma -Much hyped on arrival and after looking very promising but inconsistent for the last year seems to be finding his feet. Signed off the season with a fantastic strike and has the potential to be chipping in with more goals next season.

Neal Maupay – As Arsenal players will tell you he has an edge. 10 goals in a new team in his debut PL season is a very good start, but his work-rate and link-up play was very important this season as well.

Steven Alzate- Missed the restart with an injury, came from some unspectacular loan spells to look like one of Brighton’s best-players in a variety of positions, with impressive composure. Potter has moved him around a lot but should be building the midfield around Alzate and Bissouma next season.

Leandro Trossard- After talk of Brighton having their own Eden Hazard last August, injuries led to a run of games where he looked great off the bench and a  bit of a disappointment when starting. More consistent after the re-start and finishes the season with a very good 5 goals and 3 assists.

5 to ditch-
Florin Andone- Tremendously talented striker who seems to be always cementing his place as a regular starter before injury and idiocy (elbows, late tackles) cost him. Back at the club after injury affected loan spell at Galatasaray, a parting of ways looks a certainty this summer.

Jurgen Locadia- Signing dodgy strikers signed from the Dutch league is a premier league rite of passage. Seems to have spent so long bulking up he can’t move his legs. His loan spell to FC Cinciniatti has not gone great.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh – Goal of the season contender with an overhead wonder goal against Chelsea but Graham Potter seems unconvinced by him and  by wingers generally. With Trossard, the arrival of Adam Lallana and Alexis MacAllister showing promise, unlikely to get consistent games. Seems a lovely bloke though.

Martin Montoya – signed from Valencia, played 45 games for Barcelona and despite playing over 50 games for the Albion has never really found a place in the fan’s hearts. He did have to contend with taking over from club legend Bruno. With Lamptey showing such promise and the arrival of Joel Veltman from Ajax it seems unlikely he will want to stay to be 3rd choice.

Jason Steele/David Button – both signed to boost home grown player numbers. They’ve both looked fine when called upon but neither offer genuine competition and Brighton would be worried if Ryan were to injure himself after the transfer widow shuts. With Christian Walton completing his second impressive loan spell in the Championship and a number of other promising young keepers at the club having both seems unnecessary and one or other should move to a championship club to play some football or at least get to warm-up and sit on the bench.
David Taylor, Lewes


Check out the J-League
The J-League’s official Youtube channel showed Mito Hollyhock feat. Pitbull versus Zweigen Kanazawa on Sunday. I can’t understand Japanese so I muted the sound and enlisted F365’s man in Japan via Zoom for insight and co-commentary. He was no Danny Murphy.

*This was a midtable clash, so we expected it to be fairly even. Both teams lined up in 4-4-2, and were very narrow in defence. Wonder if Tony Pulis was watching. In typical fashion, the only non-Japanese players were from Brazil. Zweigen’s striker Lucão, though resembling a classic target man, caused a lot of problems with his dribbling instead of simply being relied upon for headers. He had the first half chance, slightly against the run of play, when he burst through the defence but put a shot wide when one on one with the goalkeeper – a left-footed player would have been more likely to hook the shot on target, whereas his right-footed shot was straight and a couple of yards wide.

*The hosts took the lead midway through the first half. An attempt by Zweigen to switch the ball to the left wing cannoned off Ryoga Ishio straight to Masato Nakayama, who played a through ball into the path of Kazuma Yamaguchi; he rounded the keeper and slotted home.

*A defensive error was a big factor in Kanazawa’s equaliser as the first half was drawing to a close. A long ball forward from goalkeeper Yuto Shirai was flicked on by Lucão, and then completely misjudged by  Mito centre-back Boniface Nduka, who let it bounce and then missed his kick when he tried to hook it clear. Young Kanazawa forward Mutsuki Kato was waiting on the edge of the area, and he rifled past the stranded Kenya Matsui in the Mito goal.

*Zweigen’s second goal, in the 57th minute, had a similar pattern to the first: a free kick sent long by Shirai and a mistake by Nduka, who turned too late and the ball bounced off his shoulder. Chasing up on the edge of the box, Lucão struck a rocket into the bottom corner past an unprepared Matsui.

*Shortly after this, a double substitution for the hosts made a difference as fatigue set in for Zweigen, playing for the third time in a week. As Mito started to enjoy a spell of possession, Nakayama was again involved, picking up the ball midway through the Kanazawa half. He played a one-two with one of the subs, Kai Matsuzaki, and received the ball back inside the penalty area. With his back to goal, he made just a few inches of space before spinning and arrowing a pinpoint shot between two defenders and past Shirai. This took the wind out of the Zweigen sails, but it was still an open game. In stoppage time, another one-two involving Matsuzaki allowed his fellow substitute, Brazilian forward Pitbull, to surge clear of a tired defence and score with a curling chip round and over Shirai.

*A shame about the result, but a fun game. Both teams came from a goal down to take the lead, the goals were scored by contrasting styles of play, and the winner came with basically the last kick of the game. That said, I’d be lying if I said the real highlight wasn’t F365’s man in Japan’s son appearing in the side of the Zoom out of nowhere, having convinced both of his parents he was fast asleep. He is 28 years old. However, I’d definitely recommend checking out J-League games in future.
Ed Quoththeraven  


Alex McCarthy, England’s No.1
1) I am a big fan of Ralph Hassenhuttl, his work at Southampton and the incredible turnaround in their season. However I believe one player should get even more credit and he barely gets mentioned – Alex McCarthy. He replaced Angus Gunn after the 0:9 defeat and the team never looked back. According to WhoScored rating he is the 7th best goalkeeper this season (10+ matches), with 3 keepers better by only 0.01 point. Any time I watched Southampton highlights he looked a rock in the back, calm and composed, and helped his team with some incredible saves – unfortunately he needs to work on his pointing and shouting after the saves when the TV cameras are looking at him, it somehow makes the saves look ordinary. Surely having a keeper behind them, whom they can trust, helped the defence and the team as whole to perform on a much higher level in the rest of the season. Few follow-up points:

– given that the change of the keeper was the only tangible thing done after the 0:9 drubbing and the impact he had in my opinion, I believe he was the biggest reason for the turnaround. Not taking credit from Ralph Hassenhuttl but had McCarthy not been available when the manager needed a change and had Angus Gunn continued, I don’t believe the turnaround would happen and Souhtampton could have been relegated.

– seeing what a solid goalkeeper could do for a team, not just in terms of actual saves but more in terms of the confidence of other players, is it maybe too harsh to blame Frank Lampard for the defensive shambles at Chelsea? Obviously Kepa has the worst statistics ever, he is the exact opposite of a keeper exuding confidence to his defence, Lampard wasn’t the one who brought Kepa to Chelsea and he could not really do that much about the goalkeeping situation this season. Is it possible that there will be a significant improvement in the defence next season without any personnel change bar the keeper?

– I find it odd McCarthy is not mentioned at all in the “Who should be England number one” debate. Not saying he is heads and shoulders above the rest but he had the biggest impact on the team this season, is only marginally behind Pope and Henderson in the WhoScored rating (if it shows anything) and has actually much better passing stats than those two.

2) Aaron Ramsey to Man Utd does not make any sense. The only role he could play in the current setup is the one occupied by certain Bruno Fernandes. To be a back up, he would have to go down to the quarter of his current Juventus salary, for it to make any sense financially. His main strengths are in the opposition box and around it; in the deeper, facilitator role, which could be vacated by potential Pogba`s sale, he is at most average.

3) Am I the only one not buying the rumours of big interest in Aubameyang from Barcelona? To me it looks more like an agent ploy to get more money and longer contract from the Arsenal hierarchy. I am not in slightest questioning his ability but Barcelona’s current preferred front three is Messi (33), Suarez (33), Griezmann (29). Even such an incompetent management as the one in Barcelona surely would not bring a 31 year old forward on a big contract, more so given the state and structure of their finances and the current situation.
Jan Lostak


Another F365 agenda
I was ecstatic to see your Top 10 Championship players of the season this morning. Finally a Leeds get the recognition they deserve.

Well you can imagine my shock horror when I open it up to see that Leeds make up only 3 of the 10 places and we dont even have the top 1 or 2.

How dare you 365! We were the top team in the championship last season.

Its obvious you have and have had for quite some time now an agenda against LUFC and I wont stand for it anymore. It’s obvious Winty has bias with her love of Terriers.
Dale (Too much? Not enough?) Leeds 


Played for both
Nice idea from Aodan (CFC), in trying to build a “played for both” team, but unfortunately picking two sides who only had 10 players in common left his team a bit weak. It got me thinking (because I’m easily distracted) and, although I’m not a Liverpool fan, they for some reason jumped out as the go-to team for trading players frequently between a seemingly small bunch of Premier League clubs. Or maybe they just churn through a lot of players. I’m not sure.

I started with Liverpool and Saints and came up with the following XI, which probably doesn’t have the pound for pound quality of Aodan’s CheArs team, but does at least feature eleven players – with the option of Rickie Lambert if / when Danny Ings inevitably gets injured.

Bruce Grobbelaar

Nathaniel Clyne
Virgil van Dijk
Dejan Lovren
Steven Caulker
Mark Walters
Jamie Redknapp
Adam Lallana

Danny Ings
Peter Crouch
Sadio Mané

I just resisted the temptation to put Steven Caulker in up front, but I know that’s a sore point with the Anfield faithful.

Then I happened upon the idea of an Aston VillaPool XI and I think I might have hit the jackpot. I’m not sure if the 3-4-3 formation works, but look at that attacking firepower with so many options from the (admittedly defensively-light) bench. Impressive that the two sides have shared some PL goalkeeping greats over the last 30 years. And Scott Carson.

José Reina

Steven Warnock
Steve Staunton
Aly Cissokho

James Milner
Joe Cole
Øyvind Leonhardsen
Stewart Downing
Robbie Keane

Stan Collymore
Dean Saunders

Subs: Scott Carson, Christian Benteke, Milan Baros, Peter Crouch, Patrick Berger, Brad Friedel, David James, Emile Heskey

Jeez. I really should have done some work this afternoon, but this is frankly addictive more interesting than my company VAT return.

ManChelsea City – looks great on paper until you remember just how over-the-hill George Weah was when he arrived in England.

Willy Caballero

Terry Phelan
Tal Ben Haim
Danny Granville

Shaun Wright-Phillips
Frank Lampard
Kevin de Bruyne
David Rocastle
Wayne Bridge

George Weah
Nicolas Anelka

The two more for Liverpool. Haven’t they bought a LOT of players from Premier league clubs??


Brad Friedel

John Scales
Neil Ruddock
Paul Konchesky

Danny Murphy
Øyvind Leonhardsen
Nick Barmby
Jamie Redknapp
Christian Ziege

Peter Crouch
Robbie Keane

And, I dunno, West Hanfield. It’s not so good, that one.

David James

Alvaro Arbeloa
Rigobert Song
Glen Johnson
Julian Dicks
Victor Moses
Mike Marsh
Javier Mascherano
Yossi Benayoun

Andy Carroll
Titi Camara
Chris “Focus” Bridgeman, Kingston upon Thames


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